The word sports addiction has very strong and always negative connotations. If you are addicted or addicted, you have lost control . Losing control regarding the consumption of tobacco, alcohol, gambling and countless examples that could come to mind, it is clear that it is negative. But when addiction is suffered to something that is positive, such as physical activity, it is harder to decide when we can conclude that we are passing. In a society with an obesity pandemic, defining yourself as an exercise addict sounds like a blessing, but it can also end up being your curse . We are going to try to elucidate when the practice of sport is beginning to be a problem in your life.

Can there be an amount of physical exercise that is too much?

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Stated like this, we would all say that it is clear that there is a healthy limit of physical exercise, but reality shows that socially there is a huge margin between what some or others consider a reasonable amount of exercise . It is not the same that you speak with a sedentary person, that with someone who trains to do triathlons. You will get very different evaluations. It is easier for us to condemn the attitude of someone who does not get up from the couch than that of someone who trains three times a day. We admire the “willpower” of this type of person, after all you can never be “too healthy”, don’t you think?

The point is that the amount of exercise we do is not necessarily correlated with our level of health, which depends on other important variables such as nutrition, family life, relationships, happiness in its most general sense, etc. All of them are essential for your health, understood in its fullest sense, to be good. Pay special attention if you can identify with any of the following situations:

Are you often sick, injured, or have bouts of anger or depression?

Exercise is possibly the most powerful natural antidepressant out there thanks to the release of endorphins and serotonin. But too much of something often takes you suddenly to the other side of the scale. If your addiction to exercise is high, your dependence on it will make you irritable if one day you have not been able to go to the gym or practice the sports addiction that catches you. Also, if you do not get any kind of anxiety or feeling of dissatisfaction, the fact of not reaching certain marks or specific results, this self-demand can end up in a depression. There are times when the trigger for these problems is not so much the exercise itself, but its use as a “drug” with which to escape to a personal moment or environment and, of course, when the exercise ends your problems continue.

If you get into a training loop that is getting harder and harder trying to reach a higher echelon each day, it is also not uncommon for the body to “take control” and cause you to fall into a cold, the flu, tendonitis or a contracture more or less serious to force you to stop. If this situation does not teach you anything, the process can be cyclical and add to the emotional aspect: you stress the body so much that you injure yourself, you have to stop, the stop generates stress, frustration, sadness and you try to compensate by returning in a more extreme way to the training, an attitude that returns you to the same place in a few weeks.

Do your personal relationships suffer and / or do you end up in a social circle that revolves exclusively around sports addiction?

It is okay to exercise and lead a healthy life. Very well. But avoiding family meals over and over again because they are a “hydrate bacchanalia”, or not spending time with your partner, because your schedules must be strictly adjusted to circadian rhythms and you do not understand that there can be some relaxation on the weekend … Something It goes wrong. Be careful, these considerations seem to apply to runners, cyclists, triathletes or crossfitters, to name a few examples, but I personally know a couple of couples who have been ruined by the immovable days playing golf, each and every one of the Saturdays and Sundays of the year. Water and Sports Physical Therapy and What Can It Contribute to Us.

If in a family, a couple or even a group of friends, there is an active and a sedentary “sector”, the positive thing is that the former motivate the latter, but not that they impose their tyranny. Interest in sports and an active life is something that is learned, but it also finds certain limits depending on each person. If you do not understand that and you do not have the slightest empathy, you will leave people behind until your core of personal relationships is not only reduced in number, but in what you can do, talk and share with your «geek group», because once you have a certain level of addiction, with nothing else in your life, that’s what you’ve become.

You train like a pro, but aren’t you?

There are people who train many hours a day every day. They work both strength, aerobic endurance, mobility and flexibility in continuous and chained sessions that can be followed by a review with a physio. These people are professional athletes.  Being a professional athlete does not mean being a world champion. The elite of the sport is that, elite. A group selected from the best of the best. A professional athlete is a person who makes a living from that activity. It is their job. If you try to follow that rhythm, but you do not see a euro for it, it is time to reconsider your priorities, since there is something in that equation that does not add up and, sooner or later, it will lead you to frustration or to have lost many others opportunities and people who were there and you weren’t able to see them.

Self-assess your level of exercise  in sports addiction

Psychologists Heather Hausenblas and Danielle Symons Downs established an exercise dependence scale to assess individual risk of sports addiction. The model was based on the protocol that is applied to identify other addictions, especially those related to drug addiction, smoking or alcoholism. This scale is summarized in seven key factors to evaluate if you are an exercise junkie, understood as something you should worry about and not take it lightly:

  • Tolerance : You need more and more amount of exercise to obtain the same personal satisfaction.
  • Withdrawal symptoms : Nerves, irritability, fatigue and general tension if you do not exercise.
  • Loss of control of the proposed goal : You always end up doing more exercise than you had planned.
  • Loss of control of goal reduction : It is impossible for you to take a step back in the amount of training and / or your marks or challenges to achieve.
  • Total time : You invest a disproportionate amount not only in exercising, but also in all kinds of activities that, without being training itself, revolve around it or physical activity.
  • Disappearance of other projects: Exercise gradually occupies the space of the rest of your vital areas (friends, family, partner, work …).
  • Ignore injuries: Continue training even when there is pain or injury.

Although it sounds corny, it does not define what you do, but what you carry inside you. Not only do you have to have a lot of perseverance and courage to prepare a marathon, you also have to have it to do a self-evaluation and redefine the vital objectives that we pursue. Remember that the level of happiness is not defined by how fit you are. You can be a world champion of something and fall into deep depressions, and even suicide as has happened with some athletes of the world’s elite. Put the exercise in its place. It is important, but it should not be a steamroller that overrides everything. May the Force be with you.